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Elderly drivers more likely to get into car crash

It may not come as a surprise to families with aging parents or grandparents that older drivers are more likely to be involved in a car crash than other drivers. About 10,000 people in the United States turning 65 each day, which means that by the end of this decade, about 1 out of every 6 people will be that age or older. A lot of those people will continue to have a driver’s license for many years, even though driving can become a riskier activity.

For families with aging relatives, recognizing when the person is no longer a capable driver can be difficult. Some experts say that short of getting in the car and going for a drive, there is rarely another reliable way to assess driving abilities. Many families wait for a significant health event or for an accident to happen before they begin to have the difficult discussion with a loved one about driving.

At that point, the older driver may have already caused injuries to themselves or others. Some states have taken initiatives to test driving competency more regularly as license holder’s age. However, in New Jersey, people may renew by mail and are not required to submit to a driving or vision test regularly in order to maintain licensing.

There is no specific age at which drivers show a significant increase in accident rates. Rather, it gradually increases over time. Some drivers are able to continue to use their cars safely into their 80s. Many people are reluctant to give up their license or car, since loss of a driver’s license can be difficult, because it also means loss of mobility and independence.

Source: Fox News, “Diminished Motor Skills: ‘Silver tsunami’ of elderly drivers prompts tough decisions,” Joshua Rhett Miller, April 16, 2012.

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